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The aging buildings in the Wauwatosa School District have been tabbed to get some attention from an advisory committee.

"Our newest building is 48 years old," Superintendent Phil Ertl said. "Just to maintain our older buildings takes resources."

At the Jan. 23 school board meeting Ertl recommended the formation of a Facilities Advisory Committee to the Wauwatosa School Board. The recommendation from Ertl came following an initial phase of a facility study the district commissioned in late 2016.

Nicholas Kent, an architect with Plunkett Raysich Architects — one of two companies the district contracted with through an RFP process to complete the audit — was also on hand to present a general process districts go through once they undertake a facilities study.

“This study is quantifying where we (the district) are at this point. This is a point where we engage the community, to share out and get reaction and input from the start on where do we go from here,” explained Kent. “These are complex issues we are talking about and we generally use a phased approach. Collaboration from everyone involved is essential.”

In June of 2016, Plunkett Raysich and Performance Services were hired to undertake a facilities and classroom space study to get a true assessment of current conditions of the district’s 14 buildings as well as to determine the district’s needs for the future, based on the findings and the district’s objectives.

Committee makeup

The proposed committee would consist of one school board member, the superintendent, director of business services, and the building and grounds manager as well as one building administrator from each level, one teacher from each level, a total of six parents — one from each level and one from both East and West — and five community members.

Ertl said the district wants the committee to consist of citizens who represent all aspects of the community and, as of Jan. 30, 24 people have expressed interest in serving on the board. The panel will be an administrative committee versus a sub-committee of the board and those appointed to it will serve for 12 to 18 months.

The scope of the facilities study included a conditions audit of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and architecture — ranging from roofing to structure, pools and interior and exterior elements — as well as classroom design and capacity. Additionally, the study also reviewed safety and security measures throughout each building, and potential ADA improvements. The goal of the study was to develop a short term and long term capital improvement plan for the district to assure spending is done in a logical, cost-efficient manner for the long haul.

Plan to be drafted

“Together, with the community, parents, businesses, and school board, we will work to create a plan that is in the best interest of Wauwatosa and the future of our students,” Ertl said. “What that looks like is to be determined.”

Ertl said at the committee's first meeting members will be tasked to lay out a process and timeline and explore what the school board expects of them.

"Through a phased process, the charge of the committee will be to review, assess, and prioritize identified facilities needs throughout the district, as a result of the study’s findings," a release from the school district said. "The committee will then brainstorm and evaluate potential remodeling and construction solutions for further investigation and broader community review, routinely communicating or reporting updates to the board. Eventually a final report would be presented, summarizing the committee’s finds and recommendations to the Wauwatosa School Board."

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